After enormous pain, the airline industry has reported its first revenue growth in 14 months.
Times are far from great, but there’s a small glimmer of hope emerging:
In January, passenger revenue for domestic and international flights rose 1.4% compared with the same month in 2009, according to the Air Transport Assn., the industry trade group that represents the country’s largest airlines. And airline cargo traffic for December jumped 17% over the same month in 2008, according to the group.
“The modest uptick in passenger revenue and the solid increase in cargo volumes are promising signs that air transport demand may be at the beginning of a long-awaited recovery,” association President James C. May said.
One research firm even believes that there could be substantial revenue growth happening right now:
The group’s report was released a week after an independent equity research company, Majestic Research Corp., released a study predicting that large, traditional airlines such as US Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines may see passenger revenue increase as much as 9% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. The research firm based its analysis on proprietary data collected from airline ticket vendors and by surveying ticket prices on the Internet, among other techniques.
If Majestic is proven correct, it will be hard for bears to excuse-away an airline revenue rebound.